I’ve been taking advantage of my daughter while she’s home — by getting her to read my manuscript. We’ve been going through the book one chapter at a time: taking pieces out, replacing sections, rearranging parts. Every time my daughter has said, “You should cut this,” I’ve listened. She’s a ruthless editor whereas I’m a pack rat, so it’s helpful.
The editing process is a bit like a household cleaning project. I start with a room that looks pretty good, and decided that maybe I ought to empty out the closet, dump out the drawers, pull stuff out from under the bed. I work hard for several hours, and then look around and notice that the whole room looks way worse than when I started. That’s when it’s time to put on the tea kettle and open up a new bar of chocolate.
This afternoon, we started on the last five chapters, which is the part of the book that I’ve worked on the least. “That vignette doesn’t fit,” said my daughter. She looked over at my computer as I selected the piece and shuffled it to an earlier chapter.
“Wait! Is THAT what you’ve been doing?” she asked, “Putting them back into the early part of the book?”
I looked up guiltily. “Not all of them. But I liked that piece.”
“Oh, my god,” she said. “This is like cleaning with you. I try to make you throw stuff away and you sneak it back into the house.”
“It’s why we make a good team,” I said. “Here, have more chocolate.”